What is COOT?

While living the life of the mind, our students enjoy exploring the physical world.

Many play varsity, club, or intramural sports. Plenty take advantage of our location and outdoor programming to sample Maine’s spectacular natural offerings. Every student begins the Colby experience by embarking on an intensive outdoor adventure with a small group of fellow first-years, building friendships and self-confidence before the fall semester even begins. The outdoors is part of the education here. There may be no greater classroom.

Keys to COOT

COOT provides students with opportunities to develop meaningful social connections while being challenged at an appropriate level through a wide range of experiences throughout the beautiful state of Maine. COOT leaders provide an ongoing mentoring presence on campus throughout the academic year. The COOT program, which takes place Aug. 30th-Sep. 1st, 2023, offers students classic outdoor experiences such as rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, local exploration, and whitewater rafting. Trips range from mild to strenuous in exertion level and provide students with an exciting array of activities from which to choose. It is our goal to provide everyone–from beginners to those experienced in the outdoors–with a trip well-suited to their interests and ability level. The program is managed by administrative staff with significant collaboration and assistance from student leaders. Our leaders undergo a competitive selection process and must successfully complete all training requirements to be considered a COOT leader.

Students with sunset

Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips

COOT (Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips) is an outdoor-based orientation program required of all first-year Colby students. Trips are designed to be fun and engaging while preparing students for their transition to living and learning on campus.

Backpacking

These trips are well suited to students that are comfortable in the outdoors and those who would like a challenge. Beginners as well as those with hiking or backpacking experience are welcome. Located on various sections of the famous Appalachian Trail, as well as the western portion of the newly designed Grafton Loop Trail, participants will enjoy leaving the car behind as they backpack from campsite to campsite through the mountains. These trips often enjoy a time-honored “cross-COOT” experience–meeting up with another COOT group hiking in the opposite direction on the trail. All of these trips involve rustic, backcountry camping and are strenuous. Students may carry over 40 pounds on their backs over steep and rough terrain. An internal frame backpack (at least 60 liters or 3500 cubic inches), broken-in hiking boots, a sleeping bag (rated to 30 degrees) and sleeping pad are required for backpacking trips and are available to borrow for the trip.

Exertion Level: Strenuous
Amenity Level: Backcountry* Camping in Tents

Basecamp

Mount Katahdin, Acadia National Park, Saddleback Mountain — explore some of Maine’s true treasures. Also discover some of its best kept secrets such as the Cutler Bold Coast, Gulf Hagas, and more. These trips are a wonderful introduction to the outdoors in Maine. Basecamp trips “make a home” at one site and explore the area by hiking, sightseeing, or beach hopping. These trips generally enjoy frontcountry camping with access to modern amenities. They range from mild to moderate to strenuous in exertion level. A sleeping bag and a sleeping pad are required for these trips.

Exertion Level: Mild-Strenuous
Amenity Level: Frontcountry* Camping in Tents

Canoeing

A classic Maine experience! Enjoy paddling the St. Croix river with it’s many approachable rips and rapids. This backcountry trip paddles from campsite to campsite each night taking in the scenic beauty of northern Maine. This trip involves rustic, backcountry camping and ranges from moderate to strenuous in exertion level. Participants should be comfortable with water-based activities and have established swimming skills. A sleeping bag and a sleeping pad are required for these trips.

Exertion Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Amenity Level: Backcountry* Camping in Tents

Classic Maine Camp (Multi-Sport)

Laughter is a wonderful way to bring people together! Fun, excitement, and challenge characterize this experience that allows participants to bond through games, initiatives, and low- and high-challenge course elements. Following the challenge-by-choice model, participants will be encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones and try new activities in a highly supportive environment.

Exertion Level: Mild-Moderate
Amenity Level: Cabin*

Local Exploration

Get oriented in your new backyard! Local exploration trips explore the Waterville area and neighboring communities to give participants a diverse introduction to the many resources and activities available as they make their new home at Colby. There are three types of Local Exploration trips, catered to specific interests: Art, Fishing, and Recreation/Yoga. Experience in the trip's main activity is not required for participation. Activities outside the main focus include, but are not limited to, an exploration of Waterville Main Street, a walk along the Kennebeck riverside, and an introduction to the Colby Hume Center.

Exertion Level: Mild
Amenity Level: Cabin*

Rock Climbing

Visit Acadia National Park or picturesque Camden Hills State Park and experience rock climbing along Maine’s legendary rocky coast. We will partner with experienced climbing guides in each location to offer this spectacular experience. Beginners are welcome. Participants should be comfortable with heights. Personal climbing shoes are not required but you are invited to bring your own pair if you have them. All other climbing gear will be provided.

Exertion Level: Moderate
Amenity Level: Frontcountry* Camping in Tents

Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is a classic Maine activity. These trips will stay on beautiful Allen Island, an island off the coast of Maine that is owned and stewarded by Colby. Groups will stay in cabins on the island and kayak the waters around the island with professional kayaking guides. In their downtime, groups can explore the nature and history of the island while enjoying all the amenities the island has to offer.

Exertion Level: Mild-Moderate
Amenity Level: Cabin*

Surfing/SUP

Surfing in Maine? Absolutely! Catch some of the best waves in the state along the shores of Popham Beach. Participants will be introduced to surfing or stand-up paddle boarding. Beginners and experienced surfers are both welcome. All gear is provided. Strong swimming ability is a requirement for participation in this trip.

Exertion Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Amenity Level: Frontcountry* Camping in Tents

Trailwork

This trip is a great way to explore the mountains and trails of Maine while gaining an understanding of the process of creating the outdoor recreational experiences we use in this great state. Groups will work with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club to construct projects that will serve the Maine public for years to come, and then will enjoy a frontcountry campsite as a group at night. In their downtime, groups can enjoy the natural area around them and find local trails and swimming holes.

Exertion Level: Strenuous
Amenity Level: Frontcountry* Camping in Tents

Whitewater Rafting

Calling all adventurers! Located in The Forks—where the Kennebec and Dead rivers meet—this whitewater rafting and falls exploration trip is sure to thrill. Crab Apple Whitewater and Northern Outdoors will serve as our guides for the rafting portion of the trip, leading us down class III and IV rapids and providing a delicious cookout for lunch. The rest of the trip will be comprised of light hiking and excursions, including a visit to a special point of interest, Moxie Falls. Participants should be comfortable with water-based activities and have established swimming skills.

Exertion Level: Moderate
Amenity Level: Frontcountry* Camping in Tents

*Backcountry trips camp in remote locations without access to running water or electricity. These trips treat water from natural sources (rivers or lakes) and use primitive latrines or catholes to dispose of waste.

*Frontcountry trips stay at campsites with typical camping amenities such as water taps, pit toilets, and campfire rings.

*Cabin-based trips will generally have access to bathrooms, kitchens, and showers.

Outdoor Opportunities at Colby

Contact Campus Life &
Outdoor Education

Brad Geismar
Director of Outdoor Education & Leadership
Office: Garrison Foster 206

E-mail: [email protected]